The Cleveland Clinic

Diabetes: Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

There is nothing you can do to prevent type 1 diabetes. Doctors have identified a few risk factors for the disease, but currently, screening the general public to identify people at risk for type 1 diabetes is not recommended.

However, there are steps you can take to ward off type 2 diabetes, such as adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking medication. Many doctors recommend that screening for diabetes begin at age 30 among people at risk, such as those with a family history of the disease or who are overweight.

Lifestyle

Certain risk factors like age, family history, and ethnicity cannot be altered, but a change in lifestyle that includes a healthier diet and increased physical activity with or without weight loss may help reduce your risk.

In addition, if you have high blood pressure, are overweight, smoke, or use alcohol or drugs, you can help lower your risk by modifying your lifestyle. Your doctor can make specific recommendations that are right for you including diet changes, exercise, and medications to help you quit smoking or lower your weight and blood pressure.

In fact, a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health and published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that being overweight and obese was the single most important factor that predicted who would develop type 2 diabetes. During a 16 year follow-up period the study concluded that regular exercise, at least 30 minutes a day and an improved diet that's low in fat and high in fiber significantly cut the risk of type 2 diabetes for participants of the study. The bottom line: Type 2 diabetes could be prevented by living a healthier lifestyle.